You are here

The Temptation of Saint Anthony


David Ryckaert III (Flemish, 1612-1661), The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1649
Photo Credit: 


On View
Ryckaert, David III
Flemish (1612-1661)
Place made: 
Europe; Flanders
The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1649
Oil on copper
Frame: 32 1/8 in x 42 1/4 in; 81.5975 cm x 107.315 cm; Stretcher: 25 1/4 in x 35 3/8 in; 64.135 cm x 89.8525 cm
Purchase with the Warbeke Art Museum Fund
MH 2009.2.2

Demonic creatures cavort around the stoic, seated figure of Saint Anthony in this unsettling scene. Born into a prosperous family in the 3rd century CE, Anthony gave up his status and wealth to live as a hermit in the desert, devoting himself to prayer.

During this time he was tormented by demons sent by the devil to tempt him away from his religious path. Their contorted bodies seem at once familiar and strange, human and animal—heightening our sense of unease. A pretty, young woman stands apart from this devilish crowd, extending a wine glass to the saint. Could her kind gesture provide Anthony a moment of relief? Perhaps not: a monstrous green lizard pulls back her robe to reveal her feet—and her true nature.

-Kendra Weisbin, Associate Curator of Education, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2017)